Are lockdown measures ethically justified? This paper outlines some of the key issues relevant to answering that question, paying particular attention to how decisions are framed. Section 1 argues that ethical reasoning about lockdown ought to be guided by a distinction between prudential and ethical reasons, grounded in a concern to respect the separateness of persons, but also that—as public health messaging implies—it can be unclear whether measures are in individuals’ prudential interests or not. Section 2 suggests that a similar set of problems affect attempts to adopt alternative cost-benefit-analysis frameworks for assessing lockdown. Section 3 suggests an answer to these shared problems: we need a process for determining when wellbeing claims and systems of categorization are ethically apt. Section 4 argues that settling the question of aptness is our key ethical task in assessing lockdown.


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pp. 265-289
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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